The Drug: Procrit
An anti-anemia drug, this miraculous blood booster was one of the first biotech blockbusters.
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The Drug: Procrit
An anti-anemia drug, this miraculous blood booster was one of the first biotech blockbusters. Developed by Amgen and licensed to a Johnson & Johnson company, the drug was sold by the two companies under the brand names Procrit, Epogen, and Arenesp.
The Underdog: Mark Duxbury, Drug Salesman
Duxbury was the gung-ho salesman for the new biotech division of J&J, an irrepressible character full of jokes. In the early 1990s, he set out to spread the benefits of Procrit, and became a true believer and top seller. But he and his peers were told to steal business from J&J's partner, Amgen. Then came the marketing studies, the off-invoice rebates, doctor payments, and off-label claims. Duxbury tried to stop some of these ruthless programs, but was fired on trumped-up charges. He tried anything to warn the public: testifying in a secret arbitration, joining a class action effort, and filing a whistleblower suit. But he was thwarted at nearly every turn-until the surprising end.
The Best Friend: Dean McClellan, Drug Legend
Dean McClellan was Duxbury's friendly rival. He tried to beat his buddy's record and wound up selling $170 million worth of the drug, becoming a legend. When Duxbury got fired, McClellan tried to distance himself. But as news of Procrit's deadly power started to surface, McClellan agreed to hand over thousands of damning documents and help his friend blow the whistle on J&J.
The Crusader: Jan Schlichtmann, Esq.
Remember Jan Schlichtmann, protagonist of the best-selling book and Oscar nominated movie, A Civil Action? When he learned of Duxbury's mission, he felt the old fire rising in his belly and signed on. Now, he's gambling on yet another long shot, trying to fight on behalf of not just millions of cancer patients, but for every American who overpays for health-care.